Brigantia Stone

Brigantia Stone Earlier in January I dreamt the Oak and Feather Grove were holding a celebration on the West Pennine Moors around a sandstone monument carved with a goddess figure rooted in the earth drawing up its energy to combine with shining rays of sunshine. I knew this was a ‘Brigantia Stone.’

Today is the Gaelic festival of Imbolc, which is connected to the goddess Brighid or Bride. In Scottish mythology she is imprisoned in a mountain by the Cailleach throughout winter and escapes her prison in spring, bringing new growth and regeneration. In Wales she is known as Ffraid and this festival is Gwyl Ffraid.

Here in Northern England she is known as Brigantia. Her name is Brythonic and means ‘High One.’ She was the warrior goddess of the Brigantes tribe, whose tribal confederation dominated the North until the Roman Invasions. I associate Brigantia with high places, locally with the West Pennine Moors and in particular Great Hill.

Great Hill from Brindle

Great Hill viewed from Brindle

In contrast to Brighid, whose stories and roles as a poet, smith and healer are well documented, we know comparatively less about Brigantia. Seven inscriptions exist to her across Northern England and Southern Scotland. She is equated with Victory, and on a statue with Minerva in warrior form, holding a spear and a globe of Victory and wearing a Gorgon’s head.

In my experience, Brigantia is a goddess of the wild harshness of the high hills. A warrior for certain and a goddess of the all-consuming fire of the Awen, the hammer beat of creation and a forger of souls. She’s the first goddess I met. Because she’s a poet and we share a fiery irascible temperament I thought she would become my patroness.

I was wrong and the reason behind this was a difficult one to learn. I worked very closely with Brigantia for two years whilst completing a fantasy novel. It was about a fire magician who, in order to bring down capitalism, made a pact with fire elementals which resulted in his near destruction of the world and death in the flames by which he made his pact. With my anti-hero a part of me burnt and was consumed.

After completing the novel I realised it was too dark and incomprehensible to publish. I’d wasted two years, wasn’t cut out to be a fantasy writer and and I’d lost my trust in Brigantia.

The death of my novel left a void. And into it stepped my true god. Perhaps this was Brigantia’s plan. I needed to learn the dangers of working with the untrammelled Awen; fire in the head, pure imagining, without relation to this world or the realities of the Otherworld, to which Gwyn ap Nudd opened the gates.

Afterward I resented her. Because I’d sold my car and could no longer drive to the Pennines we also became physically distanced. In spite of this, looking down on my valley from the surrounding hills, in the fire of the Awen, she has continued to be a presence in my life. I still honour her as the warrior goddess of the North. But we rarely speak in person.

My dream of the Brigantia Stone came as a surprise, even though Brigantia is in many ways a patroness of the Oak and Feather grove. I experienced the calling to redraw the stone for our Imbolc celebration (which I’d sketched in my diary) in colour, as a Bardic contribution to the grove and for Brigantia as an offering on her festival day. It came out perfectly first time, so well I decided to make copies for each member of the grove.

Lynda has suggested we take a grove walk to find the stone on the West Pennine Moors. Whether it ‘really’ exists on the moors, or in their dreamscape, I’m not certain. However, I do know it is the time to acknowledge and accept Brigantia’s role and place in my life.

Brigantia Altar

10 thoughts on “Brigantia Stone

  1. Lee says:

    I blogged something 2 days ago about suddenly finding Gwyn weaving synchronus threads in not only mine but other people’s lives which led me to where I am now. then i read:

    “a goddess of the all-consuming fire of the Awen, the hammer beat of creation and a forger of souls.”

    …and recall what inspiration I got sitting in front of Briganti’s flame yesterday…the forger of souls… or more in my inspiration; the flame in each of us that sets us alight, the flame that sets our soul to something else. I got more from her yesterday than in ages and realise that she isn’t just the flame we light in our hearths, or the pyre we light to carry our words and libations to the gods, but that she is also the flame, the spark in us that connects us to the gods.

    • lornasmithers says:

      Your notion of Briganti’s flame in our souls that connects us to the gods is very interesting.

      On Jan 26th in response to Rhyd’s ponderings about a-lack-of-Brighid in Ireland in contrast to her presence in Wales I said a little about the contrast between my experience of Brigantia in Northern England and Brighid at Glastonbury.

      ‘In northern England I connect with Brigantia, whose presence is very different to the Brighid worshipped in Glastonbury. To me Brigantia’s a goddess of the high hills, a warrior, quite harsh. I’ve not got to know the Glastonbury Brighid yet. I sense she’s powerful but the water of her springs is softer than the northern springs. More healer than forger.’

      My final words…. ‘The similarity, the flame at their hearts.’

      • Lee says:

        This bit;

        “the flame at their hearts”

        Is right now the most important bit. I think what is key is also “the flame at our hearts” too.

        looking forward to see if and how your relationship develops with her and seeing if there is is convergence between my own.

  2. Rhyd Wildermuth says:

    Wait–you also have unpublished anti-Capitalist fantasy manuscripts that seemed too dark and you decided you weren’t a fantasy novelist???
    I’m wondering if this is a ‘thing’ with Brigantia. 🙂

  3. Nimue Brown says:

    A word about novels. Most first novels are unpublishable. This is a normal experience. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad novel writer – anything but! It means you had the knowledge, skill and determination to write an entire novel, many people never finish the first go and never write another, and they are the ones who will not write novels. You wrote one, and you got to the end and realised it wasn’t good enough. That’s awesome. That’s major learning and insight. You do not have to give up on yourself as a novelist. There’s no guarantees you’ll think book 2 is up to scratch either, but somewhere around novel three or four usually, the magic happens. It’s a lot of life to pour in, and that’s a choice to make, but it is an option you have.

  4. crychydd says:

    I’d concur with Lee’s comments and your own experience of Brighid as the spark that can lead us and set us on the path we need to follow. She was certainly instrumental in leading me towards identification with individual deities as opposed to aspects of a single God and Goddess.

  5. Ulven says:

    This is an odd question, I apologize if it’s a bit invasive. I *may* have been visited by Brigantia a few times.. once in the past and a few recently. Whom I first confused as Athena/Minerva.

    Do you by any chance personally associate her with any stoat/weasel-like animals?

    • lornasmithers says:

      I haven’t personally felt any kind of connection between Brigantia and stoats or weasels and I don’t know of any in the lore, but if this link feels true I’d definitely follow it up. I’d be intrigued to hear where it leads if you’re willing to share.

      • Ulven says:

        Hi apologies for the late reply. Ahhh sadly this run-in with likely Brigantia was extremely brief. So I can’t really give any further information and I sincerely apologize for that. Hope you’re well.

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